The original Netflix comedy series, GLOW was renewed last summer for a fourth and final season. The show, centers around a troupe of female wrestlers in the 1980s and was inspired by, and loosely based on the narratives of a real-life women’s wrestling show in the late 80s and early 90s. GLOW, an acronym for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling starred Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Marc Moran and Kate Nash. It had been nominated for 15 Emmy awards, winning three during its three seasons. It had already begun shooting the fourth season earlier in the year, wrapping one episode and starting a second before it was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On the 5th of October, Netflix announced that the show would be cancelled with the reasoning that COVID “makes shooting this physically intimate show with its large ensemble cast especially challenging”.
The narrative follows Ruth Wilder, played by Alison Bree, a failing actress struggling in both her professional and private life, who grasps at a last chance of stardom in the relatively unknown world of women’s wresting. Her complex private life follows her there as her ex best friend Debbie, portrayed by Bettie Gilpin, joins too. What follows is a complex story of a band of women breaking into the male-dominated world of wrestling as they shoot for stardom. Season three of the series followed the wrestlers blooming success as they relocated from southern California to Las Vegas to perform a live show at a casino. The fourth season was reportedly given the tagline ‘The Final Match’ and hopefully picked up from Season 3’s cliff-hanger ending, where the wrestling show both saw success and a new change in direction.
A Netflix spokesperson told Deadline: ‘“We’ve made the difficult decision not to do a fourth season of GLOW due to COVID, which makes shooting this physically intimate show with its large ensemble cast especially challenging… we are so grateful to creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, Jenji Kohan and all the writers, cast and crew for sharing this story about the incredible women of GLOW with us and the world.”
In a statement, series creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch said: “COVID has killed actual humans. It’s a national tragedy and should be our focus. COVID also apparently took down our show, Netflix has decided not to finish filming the final season of GLOW. We were handed the creative freedom to make a complicated comedy about women and tell their stories. And wrestle. And now that’s gone. There’s a lot of sh*tty things happening in the world that are much bigger than this right now. But it still sucks that we don’t get to see these 15 women in a frame together again… We’ll miss our cast of weirdo clowns and our heroic crew. It was the best job. Register to vote. And please vote.”
As the TV show navigates the complex lives of female wrestlers, the very concept of the physical requirements of wrestling made the show difficult to produce safely during the coronavirus pandemic. Physical contact, high energy exertion, shouting, heavy breathing, and close proximity all play a part in wrestling but are high risk for a wrestling show. Deadline also underlined that the show was filmed entirely in Los Angeles, an area that has been particularly difficult to film in since the coronavirus pandemic. Adding that:
‘Already an expensive, high-end series. GLOW faced high additional COVID-related costs for its large cast of 20. That, combined with the uncertainty around COVID-19, and the inherent physicality of the series whose risk had to be mitigated, ultimately pushed the budget of the series too high for Netflix to proceed, sources said. Additionally, the earliest GLOW would have returned to air would be 2022, at least two and half years after Season 3. With the significant delay and the increased costs of production, Netflix brass didn’t have confidence there would be a big enough audience who would tune in at that point to justify the investment.’
The stars have been sharing their sorrow on social media, Alison Bree posting several pictures of the cast on Instagram with the caption: ‘Going to miss this… forever grateful to my GLOW family for changing my life.’ Other cast members such as Britt Baron, Marc Maron posted comments and tributes to the show on social media.
GLOW is among other shows that have been cancelled by Netflix due to the pandemic “The Society” and “I Am Not Okay With This” were both recently cancelled. Other production companies such as ABC and Amazon withdrew “Stumptown” and “Cortes y Moctezuma” respectively.